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Helmholtz Prize for two groundbreaking measurement methods

This year, the most important prize in the field of metrology will be awarded to researchers for their work in applied protein analysis and in the measurement of extremely weak binding energies in helium molecules


In principle, helium doesn’t like combining with its ilk at all. Yet, occasionally, it does exactly this, albeit with extremely slight binding energies. Scientists at Goethe University Frankfurt have successfully measured these energies for the first time. For this metrological sensation, they are to be honored with this year’s Helmholtz Prize together with their fellow researchers in Cambridge. The Cambridge researchers have enhanced the single-molecule measurement technique, which is already established in DNA analysis, in a revolutionary way using nanopores, thereby creating the conditions to, in theory, be able to detect any number of different protein molecules within the same measurement. The Helmholtz Prize’s categories of “fundamentals” and “applications” are each endowed with 20,000 euros; the prize is considered to be one of the world’s most prominent distinctions in the field of metrology, the science of precise measurement.

“To date, all of the awardees of the Helmholtz Prize have sustainably advanced the art of measurement, and many today are among the most renowned researchers in metrology”, states Dr. Joachim Ullrich, President of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) and Chairman of the Helmholtz-Fonds. “We are confident that this time will prove no exception.”

The Helmholtz Prize is awarded for outstanding scientific and technological research in the field of “precision measurement in physics, chemistry and medicine”; this year, the prize is being awarded in two categories for the first time: fundamentals and applications. The award ceremony will take place in a festive atmosphere as part of the workshop entitled “Round and ready – dissemination of the kilogram via SI spheres” on 22 June 2016 in the seminar center of PTB.